Friday, July 13, 2012

Scaliness

"In recent years, scale has become one of the hottest topics in the nonprofit sector...I have been frustrated by much of this discussion, which I think often oversimplifies complex issues, exaggerates our ability to understand how societal change happens, draws false analogies between the private and nonprofit sectors, discourages collaboration, and encourages cherry-picking of the most profitable activities within the nonprofit sector..."

Joe Kriesberg, "Is there a better way to think about scale?" The Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, July 9, 2012.

I couldn't agree more. Joe takes the next step, which many of us have done in recent times, and taken a look at the "collective impact" theory and fashion trend. There's a lot there to look at and learn from, especially when we have real clarity and focus about the outcomes, indicators, and data. When we move into the realm of community economic development -- whether focused on people or place -- things get a little murkier. We don't always have agreed upon results -- or we have multiple results for different people and situations. I also have a pet peeve that the "collective impact" crowd ignores our rich history of community organizing and coalition building. Think about the community reinvestment movement or living wage campaigns or many other efforts. Didn't they achieve some scale? We need to rethink and re-energize our coalitions for scale results -- but we ought to at least mine our successes for lessons

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